Manhandling a test lead or cable may fracture the fine wire strands inside. Carelessly wrapping a test lead or cable too tightly is one way to damage these strands. Repeatedly bending or twisting it strenuously at the same location is another way.
Sometimes, hurried techs damage these strands by picking up a tester by its leads or cables.
Frayed wire strands inside a test lead or cable may cause a tester's display to flicker or shut off — possibly cause readings to fluctuate illogically.
Carefully flexing or shaking a suspect cable may create or aggravate these annoying symptoms. If that is the case, the test lead or cable is failing.
Another basic trick is substituting known-good, known-comparable leads or cables from another tester or meter. If this substitution eliminates the erratic symptoms, replace the suspect cables or test leads.
Some test leads are more flexible than others. The greater the flexibility, the more easily a tech can wrap them into a compact bundle that fits inside a storage case at quitting time.
Some managers and techs believe that an equipment case is the logical location for test leads and cables. All in the world is not right if leads and cables are not in the appropriate storage case.
Furthermore, keeping everything in the proper storage case has a security aspect. For example, a shop foreman may lock all the meters, scan tools and other testers inside a tool crib overnight.
Many techs lock their personal test gear inside their toolboxes at the end of the day.
However, some managers and techs do not necessarily bundle and stow away every cable and test lead.
First of all, you cannot wrap some cables and test leads tightly without kinking or misshaping them. This prevents them from naturally relaxing — lying flat, if you will — in the work area.
Anyone who has learned to coil a common air hose recognizes the difference between a kinked or knotted hose and one that will unfurl readily again.
A kinked or knotted test lead can be a nuisance if it catches on something — especially when a tech is working in cramped quarters somewhere inside the vehicle.
Second, some techs have damaged test leads by trying to bundle or wrap them too tightly. Therefore, they prefer to coil test leads into a relatively large, relaxed loop.
Some techs stow these looped test leads flat inside a toolbox drawer or hang them on a tool cart or on the side of the toolbox. In some busy shops, frequently used cables and test leads are organized neatly on pegboard hooks.
For one thing, the pegboard format makes leads and cables readily available to all techs. At a glance, a shop foreman can see when one is missing from the appropriated hook on the pegboard — not to mention keep an eye on the condition of each cable or test lead.
This means that a damaged lead or cable does not create an unpleasant surprise when the shop schedule is tight.
There is more than one way to maintain and organize test leads effectively. Choose the method that best suits your needs.